Getting to know the provost
A FEW THOUGHTS FROM BETH INGRAM, NDSU'S NEW TOP ACADEMIC LEADER
Most people don’t know what a Provost does. The position is often described as the chief academic officer for the university. My take on the role is that it’s a service position — I’m here to serve as a catalyst for ensuring that the academic mission of the university is fulfilled. Most of my time is spent meeting with people — faculty, staff, students, and others — making sure that the right people are talking to and connecting with each other. I’m energized when I can facilitate a conversation between two groups who may not be aware of each other, and something spectacular happens for our students, faculty, or the North Dakotans that we serve.
I worked for two exemplary provosts before coming to NDSU; they were very different in many ways, but both brought an even-keeled, respectful, and informed perspective to the job. Also, they both worked about 14 hours a day.
NDSU has been everything I expected.I’ve felt welcomed, I’ve spoken with scholars doing amazing research, and I’ve met some of the best students in the country. I’m particularly touched to be back at NDSU, where my parents worked for many years.
I had planned on majoring in physics when I went off to college. Then, during the summer prior to starting school, I visited Washington, D.C., as a Presidential Scholar. The scholars had the opportunity to visit different sites; I visited the Iranian Embassy and, I recall, the World Bank or some other such organization. I heard an economics graduate student talk about a development project she was doing in Africa, and I was smitten. I immediately switched my major and never looked back. It helped that economics has a strong connection to math and statistics.
My interests are pretty pedestrian for an academic. I read a wide range of books (science fiction, foreign novels, memoirs, general fiction) and I like to cook. I have always wanted to play the violin (I played oboe and flute in high school), so two years ago I started violin lessons. I find doing something completely different to be relaxing; struggling with the violin also gave me a deeper appreciation for what our new students face.
I have two pieces of advice for students. First, keep struggling — we’ve admitted you because we know you can succeed. Don’t give up on yourself, but ask for help when you need it. Second, take a course just for the joy of learning about the subject. This is your chance to explore ideas and subjects that you may never have heard of before; don’t let the chance slip by.